Seeing as the Springboks were in town today, practising at the local Wasps training ground, I decided to pop in for a quick observation.
It was good to note that the Boks tour bus arrived fifteen minutes early and the boys were immediately out unloading tackle bags, protectors etc.
All the Wasps players in the gymnasium also rushed to the windows to see the team arrive, so being start-struck is not merely the province of the average rugby fan.
The Wasps car park is stuffed with expensive fancy looking sports cars and judging by quantity, I’d say that the Chrysler Crossfire and Mercedes sports are the favoured vehicles of choice.
Ian Mac found something very interesting to point out to Zola Yeye (Team Manager) and Vusi Kama (Media Manager) but for the life of me, I couldn’t see what it was, all I saw was an aeroplane taking off from Heathrow in the distance.
Nearby the SABC had a couple of guys setting up their camera, there was another camera crew and a couple of photographers plus little old me. That’s it. Perhaps it’s a case of, if you’ve seen one Bok practise, you’ve seen them all.
As Vusi wandered around the touchline I went over to introduce myself and just make sure I was allowed to be there. He was very charming and open, “Yes, you can stay for 10 minutes but please feel free to come to the news conference at 12h00 in Kensington.”
“Who are you with again, ahhh yes RuggaWorld”.
I asked him how he and Zola were settling into the team and he said very well. I asked him if he was still able to access his SARU email address and he said yes and he confirmed that he had received our messages of good luck to the Springboks and passed them on. He thanked everyone for that.
On that note I wished him and the team all the best as I could see he was busy.
Professor Derik Coetzee soon had the lads going through their warm-ups, to my untrained eye it looked very casual but he’s a professor and I’m not, so let’s presume it’s all part of established routine. He’s a very enthusiastic chap and most instructions were accompanied by shouts of encouragement and praise.
At this stage, Gert, Allister and Jake were playing keepy-uppy with a rugby ball on the sidelines.
From the warm-up, which didn’t last very long at all, the boys were paired off for attacking and passing runs. The spirit looked tremendous and there were loads of encouraging shouts, “Go Habana, go”, “That’s it, Gary”, “Nice catch, Beej” etc.
It was great to see big Juan Smith running with no apparent strain and let me tell you, Gary Botha running at you full tilt is quite a sight. Frans Steyn is a big boy and has tree trunks for thighs. The three new arrivals were all also into their stride and Wikus was looking particularly sharp and motivated.
Gary was full of smiles and really looked to be enjoying himself, he looks in great shape too. All in all, the spirit was very good and they look up for the challenge of taking on England for a second time in as many weeks. The fear factor of Twickenham will be far less this time round so perhaps we can be quietly optimistic.
Unfortunately at this stage, Vusi wandered over and smilingly informed us that the practise would now go to a closed session for backs and forwards. We managed to eke out a few more minutes and that was it.
It was nice to meet Vusi and he seemed like a very pleasant guy. Everyone else was busy and involved in the training session so I was limited to the brief chat with the Media Manager. It’s good to know that our messages of encouragement do get through.
The pitch was damp, with mud around and it’s a brisk but not freezing day in London. Pretty similar conditions to what they can expect on Saturday, except the pitch will be far superior and there may be showers.